Stimulating store: Aloha 9D-VR at Prince Kuhio Plaza offers customers thrilling experiences

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Customers are boldly jumping into the vortex of virtual reality and taking Prince Kuhio Plaza along.

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Customers are boldly jumping into the vortex of virtual reality and taking Prince Kuhio Plaza along.

Inquisitive shoppers can fly a virtual plane, enter a virtual boxing match (and get quite a workout) or take a roller coaster ride that’s so real riders think the car might leave the tracks as it heads down steep slopes.

Welcome to Aloha 9D-VR, which opened two weeks ago near Master Cuts at the mall.

“It’s gotten a lot of positive response on social media,” said plaza general manager Daniel Kea.

It causes shoppers to pause, peek in and, often, step inside for a glimpse of what’s happening. Once a customer or two buckle in, the crowd grows in waves until most machines are full and screams, yelps, gasps and uproarious laughter from bystanders are heard.

“Oh my God! Why is — it’s rusty! Oh God,” Jennifer Caro of Hilo said in fits and starts as she rode a virtual reality roller coaster. “What a fall!”

VR users can look up, down, side to side and even behind them while seat-belted into a cushioned chair that lifts them, tilts and leans back.

“You went on a hill-like drop. It was amazing. It felt so real,” said Leah Napeahi of Hilo, who visited the shop with her partner, Kaimana Orita, and son, Kekai, 4.

Some people quietly sit, perhaps smile and then their facial expression turns to one of fascination as they use the virtual reality goggles to look around, perhaps noticing a river flowing far below.

Other people laugh, scream and express genuine fear.

Cost varies, but runs about the price of a movie with popcorn and a soda.

Bystanders laugh while watching, snapping photos and taking video for social media.

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That’s because their loved ones make funny faces, grab the handgrips with gusto, tense up, toss legs in the air and, occasionally, feel so engrossed as to experience motion sickness — just like on a real roller coaster or airplane. Except at Kuhio Plaza there’s no long line before climbing aboard.

Email Jeff Hansel at jhansel@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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